Get ready now for the future of work

The World Economic Forum reports that automation, artificial intelligence, and robots are going to make 5 million jobs obsolete by 2020. We’re already in the early stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which will continue to dramatically change how we work. It’s a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity (VUCA). What we need to be doing now is future proof ourselves by adapting the necessary skills to survive and thrive in this new world.

Top 10 skills

It’s relevant to revisit the diagram below outlining skill changes as identified by the World Economic Forum.

Essentially there’s a shift in jobs and skills. Automation, artificial intelligence, robots, machine learning etc. provide greater efficiencies for organisations to replace some of the more mundane parts of jobs or the jobs altogether. As an example, with Amazon Go shoppers can basically walk into a convenience store and purchase items without having to pay via the traditional checkout queue process. No doubt there’ll be similar applications of automation in industries other than retail.

If “machines” are going to replace humans with the more transactional aspects of our jobs then we have more time to devote our energies towards the complex work. It’s an opportunity to leverage how we can make a difference by solving problems, thinking, being creative and making decisions. In a lot of ways work becomes more interesting.

Productivity is still fundamental to success

Regardless if working now or 2020, white collar professionals need to be able to:

  • Manage the level of distractions and interruptions (especially if we’re interacting with technology more)
  • Plan and schedule work (future of work activities are open to greater levels of collaboration and coordination)
  • Concentrate on the task at hand (clarity increases when we’re present)
  • Be expert at managing expectations and delivering outcomes (modern time management skills)

Cadence, content and collaboration are critically important skills going forward. Sure, the cadence and content of work might be different from what it is now, but we’ll need to recalibrate our workflow and what will be defined as the work that matters. What’s consistent though is an effective working rhythm just evolves as requirements change over time.

The 5 million job losses won’t happen at once, instead they’ll be gradual. There’ll be early adopters by the organisations who can fund the investment in technology before mass uptake from businesses offering outsourced services. The way we work is about to change dramatically so understand the skills required to be successful and readjust by developing a rhythm of work to relieve pressure and achieve outcomes.